The results of the 2020 census are in. We know approximately how many Americans identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, Other. Interesting, but relevant?
I sometimes wonder if we’re wired to differentiate. Over here are plants. Some can heal your wound, some are tasty, and some are pretty to gather. Over here are animals. Some make good pets, some will fight you to protect their young or their turf. This cloud’s going to get me soaking wet. I’ll just lie down and try to find an animal in that one.
Twice my husband, Jim, and I spent a semester in Seoul, ROK. On the subway we’d often notice a small child staring at us. Even toddlers knew we didn’t resemble people they knew. I admit that sometimes I look at someone on TV and wonder, is that person male or female? Is the person of Middle Eastern or Hispanic descent? Black or something else? I seem to be wired to categorize people. Or are such classifications the result of my living in a society where certain differences are exaggerated? Who decides which ones separate those who belong from those who don’t?
Any parent who’s watched their child circle objects on school worksheets has seen this reading-readiness exercise: Circle the object that doesn’t belong. A Sesame Street song accompanies a picture of four balloons, three red ones and a blue one. “One of these things is not like the others/ One of these things doesn’t belong.”
Hey, all four of the objects are balloons! Just because one is blue doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong. It expands as you fill it with air. It will pop of you stick it with a pin.
That’s the real problem, isn’t it? Deciding on the basis of difference that something/someone doesn’t belong. Let’s agree: the category is human.
We all belong.